Most people think about horses, horse racing and other equestrian related things when they think about Newmarket. This is with good reason, but there are other things of note about this market town located in the English county of Suffolk.
While being generally considered the birthplace and global centre of thoroughbred horse racing and a potential World Heritage Site, it is also a major local business cluster, with annual investment rivalling that of the Cambridge Science Park. Which is the other major cluster in the Newmarket region.
Certainly it is absolutely the largest racehorse training centre in Britain. It’s also the largest racehorse breeding centre in the country. It has served as home to most major British horseracing institutions, and an vital, as well as global, centre for equestrian health.
Newmarket is home to two Classic races, Every year there is also an additional three British Champions Series races held there. The town itself has had close royal connections since the time of James I, who built a palace there, and was also a base for Charles I, Charles II, and most of England’s monarchs since that time. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, often visits the town to oversee her horses in training.
All The King’s Horses
Newmarket is home to over fifty horse training stables, as well as two large racetracks, the Rowley Mile and the July Course. The town is home to over 3,500 racehorses, and it is estimated that one in every three local jobs is related to horse racing.
Palace House, the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, the National Horseracing Museum, Tattersalls racehorse auctioneers, and two of the world’s foremost equine hospitals for horse health, are located here. There’s no denying that Newmarket is a key centre for all things horse related, but don’t forget that while Newmarket is also considered a major export centre, there is also other places to see and things to do. And trust me when I tell you, that enjoying your Medusa Juice e-liquids and gear ranks up near the top no matter where you are.
Newmarket’s name was recorded as Novum Forum, in 1200, its meaning “new market”. Later, the English translation was applied to give the town its present name.
When James I first visited the town in 1605, he remarked that it was a ‘poor little village.’ But this didn’t stop him from building the Newmarket Palace there in 1606. It took four years to build and the estate covered an acre of land. It also helped to develop Newmarket into a royal resort and horseracing town.
Later, in 1619, Inigo Jones was commissioned to build a new lodge for the Prince of Wales. When complete, it had three storeys and was Italianate in style.
1642: In Newmarket, Charles I met a parliamentary deputation that demanded his surrender of the armed forces. “By God not for an hour,” Charles replied, “You have asked such of me that was never asked of a King!” which appears to be all that was needed to start the English Civil War. Newmarket remained Royalist throughout the war. In June of 1647, Charles was captured and brought back to Newmarket as a prisoner. While under house arrest there, Cromwell’s Army kept watch over the town. They executed him in January of 1649. Later in the year a survey was done and reported that the palace was in disrepair. It was then sold off to John Okey. He demolished most of the existing buildings.
Then in 1660, Charles II was restored to the throne and he often visited newmarket until 1685.
He commissioned William Samwell to construct a new palace along the High Street in 1668.
At the start of the 19th century, the palace was mostly torn down, but a part survives and is now named Palace House.
In 2011, The Time Team excavated on the site of Charles II’s palace at Newmarket. They found foundations of racehorse stables. So, as you can see, there’s a great deal of history here and it was and still is, very important in horse racing amongst other things. But maybe you want to spend your time on something else while in Newmarket. Not a problem. For instance, you could enjoy go-karting at Wild Tracks. That’s always a thrilling time.
Places To See
You could tour the National Heritage Centre. This is situated in the remains of Charles II’s sporting palace and stables, Palace House, and spans five acres in the heart of Newmarket. While being comprised of three complementary attractions; the new National Horseracing Museum, a National Art Gallery of British Sporting Art, it’s also a great place to kick back and enjoy a chance to meet former racehorses.
Perhaps you would like to have a drink or grab a bite in Newmarket. You won’t have a problem because there are fine little coffee and tea shops all around town and the centre is a great place to sit and enjoy vaping your latest purchases from Medusa Juice. Don’t forget that Newmarket is home to the PGI Protected Newmarket sausage. Since the 1880s, three local butchers in the town are entitled to produce these unique flavoured sausages. These sausages are also given as a prize for the Newmarket Town Plate held each year in the town at Newmarket racecourse.
If you haven’t been and have the chance, try visiting one of the four great locations. King’s Lynn is home to a kiosk in the bus station as well as the original shop. There’s also a branch of Medusa Juice in Norwich and Peterborough.
Preservation And Expansion
A group of local residents called ‘The Save Historic Newmarket group’ is an organisation dedicated to maintaining the town’s unique heritage as the world headquarters of racing. It has become increasingly vocal in recent years. They support sustainable development in the town and aim to make Newmarket a more attractive destination for visitors. Which is an admirable goal.
Newmarket is home to a creative and different sort of amusement. Story Pod is sheer genius in my opinion.
Story pod is a place where you can find a book that interests you and borrow it to read for as long as it takes. You then return it or trade it with another you’ve already read and want to share with others. Kind of like an honor system and no library card required or due date attached to it.
I borrowed my first book and plan to replace it with many more as I get through my own books.
Operating hours are 9am-9pm Monday through Sunday, weather permitting. There is a bench for seating. You can sit and read and leave the book there. There are plenty of children’s book for you to read to your children or for your kids to read and then leave it for others to enjoy.
This place is great and provides further proof that Newmarket continues to improve its downtown.